by Cutter Kilgore
Bellingham’s own Kyle Logghe, the lead singer of defunct Seattle-based rock band Verona, is in my living room and he’s screaming. What’s happening is I’m playing a rhythm video game about rock and roll with a real rock star, and he’s nailing the high notes of The Killers’ “Mr. Brightside” like it’s the end of the world and this is the last thing he’ll ever do.
But all I’m trying to do is not to cock-up the guitar riff on those sweaty plastic buttons while the screen is scrolling; green and yellow; blue and red.
Several months later, I’m hearing this one album for the first time; Kyle’s album. Verona sounds like the bastard offspring of Brandon Flowers and Phantom Planet, with some Coldplay hurled in for good measure.
Sure, I’ve listened to the contagious, sing-along hook of “Heart Like Locomotive” once or twice in the sub-woofers of my roommate’s car, its jittery, jangling guitars bouncing over a slippery rhythm and smooth-as-silk vocals. But not like this.
This time it’s Logghe crooning sweet nothings into my headphones, and I’m surprised I never listened to this band five or six years ago, while they were still around.
Verona’s “Rumored to Whisper Suspicions” is an expression of Logghe’s creative self-reflection and plays like a journal entry through the dreamscape of the frontman’s relationships with women, with alcohol, with life. The album was recorded in 2004 at Studio Litho in Seattle. It is the band’s only full length release, on the heels of two EPs.
“Many of the songs back then were written as a way to be honest with myself about how I was really feeling,” said Logghe in a recent email interview regarding the album’s 11 tracks. “My song writing is simple; don’t force it. When I feel pressured to complete something that I feel should be a spontaneous burst of creativity, all that comes out is half-assed garbage.”
The record opens with the somber “Matador, Liver and Liquor the Bull,” a track that oozes self-deprecating wit and a guitar riff that slithers along, soft and delicate, lonely as the last living dinosaur. It erupts with an urgent energy that falters a little throughout, and the lyrics provide a sense of imagery rarely returned to: “Hearts like a storm…all violent and warm, like the lightning that lights up a black summer sky.”
Logghe calls it his most honest moment.
From there it’s all reverberating guitar hooks and ups and downs. The record is top-heavy with its finest tracks; they move into each other and tell their stories, some real, some not. Dripping with longing and brutal sincerity, it’s emotion without the #emo.
“When I feel inspired,” Logghe said via email, “writing seems almost effortless. It just comes out. That is how I have always created music.”
By the time he repeats the line “I miss you,” on the tail end of “Defeat,” his sweet tenor rising above a simple stringed chorus, I’ll dare anyone to ask whether he means it.
There’s the occasional misstep, a few off-key lapses that Logghe seems to take in stride. With “Rumored to Whisper Suspicions,” you get the whole truth, for whatever it’s worth to you. You take the hiccups along with the stirring guitar crescendos.
In his purest moments, Logghe manages to reach notes that Seattle-contemporary Ben Gibbard only dreams about.
This band no longer exists.
As far as I know, that night playing “Rock Band” on my deflated sofa cushions might have been the last honest-to-god “live” performance of Kyle Logghe’s career. The gentlemen of Verona have parted ways, leaving behind an assortment of unfinished tracks, like mommy and daddy who insist they still love you; they just can’t be in the same room together anymore.
Kyle Logghe has moved on, musically, from the unstable slopes of fuzzy distortion pedals and rainy-day Seattle rock and roll. He lives in Southern California and remains tight-lipped about his current auditory endeavors. Whatever it is, it isn’t Verona.
But the album remains an iTunes treat for anyone with $6 who might have missed out. That’s most of us.